As we continue through the end of the BBQ Boom (what some are calling the BBQ Bust), there have been some changes in how people consume BBQ & Grilling related content. While dedicated websites are still an important information source, YouTube and TikTok continue to offer other ways of learning the way of live fire cooking. Overall, searches for this information, and hence website traffic, is down slightly from the previous year and well off of the peak in 2021. With the rise of generative AI, the success of websites is debatable. However, websites still remain a dominant source for internet users.
As a content creator, industry consultant, and barbecue instructor, I have watched the online barbecue community for several decades. One of the most common questions I get asked is about the relative popularity of independent websites in this topic. These are not numbers that can be easily found and are often disputed. Nonetheless, I am here to publish the top ten barbecue and grilling websites of 2023.
Step one, define what is meant by a barbecue and grilling website. I started with a broad list and then began pairing it down. First to go were all corporate sites, like Weber, Traeger, and Big Green Egg. Second, I removed the storefronts like BBQGuys.com and sites for promoting individuals like myronmixon.com. Third, I removed general information sites with some barbecue-related content that is not specifically topic-focused. This included AllRecipes.com, The Kitcn.com, or any large recipe or cooking information site. Finally, I removed forums from the list, as they qualify as collective efforts– though they may share a broad knowledge of outdoor cooking information.
The websites included in the list are non-corporate media sites that focus primarily on outdoor cooking ranging from hardcore barbecue to popular items to take to a cookout. To compile this list, I ran a series of searches for terms related to the subject. These searches included, but were not limited to: BBQ Rub Recipes, How to Grill a Steak, Brisket Smoking, Popular Cookout Side Dishes, etc. I then used SEO tools to sift through the sites with comparable topic searches.
I randomly chose pages within each website to determine their topic. Sites on the list are approximately 90% content (disregarding navigational pages) and 80% centered on barbecue and grilling. All of them operate on ad revenue as well as affiliate sales. Many offer their own line of products, including rubs, sauces, and apparel. However, merchandise made up only a small portion of the overall content in each case. Now I was getting somewhere. These sites all fell under the definition of barbecue and grilling content sites.
I then ran these sites through MOZ Ranking to get a rough breakdown of their relative authority. I checked multiple sites to estimate recent traffic, weighted the data, and then drew an average measurement of that traffic. Keep in mind that these are free services. The sites listed below invariably use Google Analytics statistics to track user and page view data. That information is proprietary to the site owners themselves and not publicly shared.
The free services I used provided the number of users, while others estimated the number of page views. Data from free services were then compared with more reliable subscription-based data. Numbers were then adjusted to bring them in line with this information. Free web tracking data spans anywhere from 3-6 months of information, depending on the provider, and some traffic estimates run about 16-18 months long. Information was weighted to provide a more recent perspective on the landscape. Numbers were adjusted using standard statistical modeling to maintain the relative comparison of traffic between the sites listed.
My position as a consultant to several entities gives me access to statistical information from paid services with high accuracy. This information generally comes to be tied to NDAs and client confidentiality. By using freely available sources, I can share this information. However, that information has to be carefully analyzed and weighted to match the information made by direct measurement. This list is based on information for the month of April 2023. It is compiled from data I have kept for the past seven years and fits in with each website’s growth and contraction patterns in traffic.
Top 10 Barbecue & Grilling Websites
- Hey Grill, Hey – heygrillhey.com
- Smoked BBQ Source – smokedbbqsouce.com
- The Online Grill – theonlinegrill.com
- Vindulge – Vindulge.com
- Amazing Ribs – amazingribs.com
- Cat Heads BBQ – catheadsbbq.com
- Food Fire and Friends – foodfirefriends.com
- Gimme Some Grilling – gimmesomegrilling.com
- Or Whatever You Do – orwhateveryoudo.com
- Jess Pryles – jesspryles.com
Some readers might find these results surprising. Let me assure you that the pattern is evident, especially for the top five sites where the traffic patterns appear consistent and reflect movement measured from last year’s list.
Size Isn’t Everything
People tend to think that bigger is better for a website. That is seldom true. Compare, for instance, Hey Grill Hey versus the largest BBQ website on this list, Amazing Ribs. Hey Grill Hey has an estimated 638 pages of content as of May 20, 2023, while Amazing Ribs has 3,884 pages. The number of indexed pages in a modern website can be deceiving since there are often infrastructural pages, navigation elements, and pages that search engines use but don’t display.
But assuming that these numbers are nearly accurate (and they are; I examined both Google-indexed content and individual sitemaps), you will find that Hey Grill Hey performs dramatically better than Amazing Ribs on a pageview per page basis. For April 2023, Hey Grill Hey generated slightly less than 5 times the traffic of Amazing Ribs while having a little more than a fifth of the content. It isn’t the size of the website.
A good website administrator will remove out-of-date content regularly. Because of this, several of the sites on this list are smaller this year than they were last year.
|Hey Grill, Hey||638|
|Smoked BBQ Source||615|
|The Online Grill||249|
|Cat Heads BBQ||500|
|Food Fire Friends||367|
|Gimme Some Grilling||241|
|Or Whatever You Do||1132|
Age is Just a Number
The age of a website plays little role in its popularity. As a general rule of thumb, SEO experts will say that it takes two years for a site to gain good search placement, but beyond that, how long a website has been around doesn’t necessarily increase its performance. Based on their registered domains, look at how long the top 10 barbecue & grilling websites have existed. Please remember that the domain registrations did not necessarily reflect when the site was officially launched.
|Website||Domain Registration Date|
|Hey Grill, Hey||2015-03-09|
|Smoked BBQ Source||2016-01-17|
|The Online Grill||2014-09-24|
|Cat Heads BBQ||2008-06-08|
|Food Fire Friends||2017-08-31|
|Gimme Some Grilling||2018-02-05|
|Or Whatever You Do||2011-01-20|
Note: Cat Heads BBQ was registered in 2008 as a website for their catering business. It became a BBQ & Grilling information site in early 2020.
Generating web traffic isn’t the esoteric science that most of us believe it is. Radical fluctuations are not as common as some may suggest. Website outages, search algorithm changes, and viral moments can affect traffic, but websites are much more likely to wax and wane over time. Some rise while others fall, as a pattern emerges over the long term that shows changes in a website’s popularity.
Below I have graphed traffic movement for the top 6 websites over the past year (May 2022 through April 2023).
Projecting the Future
Many of the most popular barbecue & grilling websites have seen impressive growth rates over the past year. By looking at these growth rates, we can get an idea of who might make this list next year. First, let’s consider the growth rates for the top ten sites comparing April of this year with April of last year.
|Hey Grill, Hey||4%|
|Smoked BBQ Source||-19%|
|The Online Grill||-12%|
|Cat Heads BBQ||N/A*|
|Food Fire Friends||-67%|
|Gimme Some Grilling||-31%|
|Or Whatever You Do||-39%|
*There is insufficient information to show a consistent growth rate for Cat Heads BBQ.
By digging deeper into the numbers and adjusting for seasonal effects, the life of the website, and content growth, I can project that the list might look like this in April 2024.
- Hey Grill Hey
- Smoked BBQ Source
- The Online Grill
- Cat Heads BBQ
- Gimme Some Grilling
- Or Whatever You Do
- Jess Pryles
- Amazing Ribs
- Food Fire Friends
This list excludes sites that could climb into the top ten. While these contenders exist, making such a list next year would require keeping conjecture to a minimum and merely illustrating trends that the current top ten sites would follow if the growth rates remained the same.
About these Sites
Hey Grill Hey: Launched in the Spring of 2015 by Utah Native Susie Bulloch. Previously, Susie had worked as a freelance content creator for a grill manufacturer, an assignment that had first introduced her to live-fire cooking. At the end of that run, she launched her blog, a female-centric grilling website.
By 2019, Hey Grill Hey had become the most trafficked BBQ website in the world. As of the date of this article, Hey Grill Hey has over 900,000 followers on Facebook and 76,000 on Pinterest. This site monetizes through advertising, affiliate sales, merchandise, branded rubs and sauces, a smart device app with in-app purchasing, and a subscription-based online BBQ school.
Smoked BBQ Source: In January 2016, Smoked BBQ Source creator Joe Clements posted an article on the best BBQ blogs of 2016. Four and a half years later, this website became the second most popular BBQ website, a position it has held ever since. Originally based in New Zealand, Joe Clements emigrated to Australia, though this site has a global reach.
Primarily built on excellent SEO tactics, Smoked BBQ Source is a carefully engineered site covering almost all outdoor cooking topics. Revenues are generated primarily through advertising and affiliate marketing. Joe now employs a team of content creators, videographers, and marketing professionals.
The Online Grill: At the beginning of 2015, The Online Grill began publishing content. Like many sites on this list, it generates traffic through SEO marketing and revenue through advertising and affiliate sales. This site’s author is listed as Ben, and the image used for the profile is a stock image.
Vindulge: The Vindulge blog operated as the company website for sommelier Mary Cressler until she and her husband Sean Martin moved back to Portland, Oregon, in 2015. Slowly food content began appearing, driven by Sean’s newfound love of barbecue and smoke cooking. In 2017, Vindulge received an IACP nomination for Best Recipe-Based Blog. Then in 2020, Mary and Sean released their cookbook “Fire + Wine.” In the Summer of 2021, Vindulge moved into third place on this list.
Vindulge is marketed through SEO and has a large social media following. It generates money through advertising and affiliate marketing.
Amazing Ribs: Begun as a way to demonstrate his web development skills, Amazing Ribs became the most popular barbecue and grilling website in early 2017. The brainchild of Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn in 2005, the site began to grow traffic in 2007, and Craig began developing it as a serious consideration. In 2016, “Meathead” the best-selling barbecue cookbook, was published.
Amazing Ribs generates revenue primarily through its ‘pitmaster’ subscription forum. It also contains paid advertising and uses affiliate marketing. There is also a line of BBQ rubs available.
Cat Heads BBQ: Cat Heads BBQ started out as a BBQ catering business but pivoted into a general barbecue and grilling information site during the pandemic. It very quickly grew into a large site with high traffic. Over the years, I have tracked multiple websites that surged in traffic, only to fall off just as quickly. We will have to see if this site has the power to remain on this list next year.
Food Fire Friends: Launched in late 2018 by Mark Jenner of Bedford, England, Food Fire and Friends has grown dramatically and moved up the list consistently. It has enjoyed a high-ranking position on this list for several years but has languished over the past year. With very little social media marketing, Food Fire Friends relies on superior SEO marketing to generate traffic.
Gimme Some Grilling: As the smallest website on this list, Gimme Some Grilling has impressive page traffic. Created by Jason & Julie Evink in 2018, this website has climbed quickly up the charts. Of course, much of this success comes from Julie Evink’s many years authoring the successful ‘Julie’s Eats & Treats’ blog, a site that started in 2010.
Or Whatever You Do: Started in 2011 as a general food blog, Or Whatever You Do (from the quote in Corinthians) grew slowly but steadily for several years. 2017 Nicole and Jeremiah Johnson bought a pellet grill, and things began to change. Or Whatever You Do began publishing more and more pellet grill-based recipes, and traffic began to rise.
With a large social media following, Or Whatever You Do offers its own line of spice rubs and generates revenue through advertising and affiliate marketing. This site generates strong search placement with recipe content focused on specific grilling and smoking equipment.
Jess Pryles: Started in 2014 by Australian-born (Austin, TX resident) Jess Pryles returns to this list after two years. Jess Pryles is a cookbook author, spokesperson, and co-founder of the Australasian BBQ Alliance. Her site is a combination of promotion, barbecue and grilling recipes and information, and a storefront for her line of spice rubs.
A Dynamic Landscape
The oldest site on this list was formed seventeen years ago, while the newest will celebrate its third anniversary later in the year. Longevity is no guarantee of success in the online world. The largest site has more than 3,000 pages of unique content, while the smallest has just over 200 pages. Search engines don’t necessarily favor a breadth of content. It doesn’t hurt, but most of the traffic is focused on a small portion of a website’s overall content.
Please note that competition for web users in this topic space has grown faster than the potential audience, as are the tools used by web developers and site authors to maximize search placement.
While social media platforms, podcasts, video-sharing sites, and smart device apps have expanded the landscape, the humble website remains the primary source of attention and engagement for most online content creators. That may wane over time. However, when presented with a question, most people turn to search engines for the answer.
Speaking From Experience
In 1997 I began authoring the website bbq.about.com. Seventeen months later, Google emerged. Then much later came Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and all the others. While there were great barbecue & grilling sites in those days, the competition was low, though the interest was continually growing. At its peak, my site (which I authored and had complete editorial control over) reached more than 4 million monthly users, with page views exceeding 400,000 daily. To my knowledge, no other barbecue & grilling website has reached those numbers since.
Working to build a popular website in the natal stage of search engines presented its challenges. I worked with individuals who would become the founders of Search Engine Optimization. Beta-tested data analytics systems and helped develop early prototypes of site metric measurements. I learned the value of data and became an expert in statistical modeling and mathematics. I worked very hard to succeed.
But all that work took its toll. I worked primarily by myself at first, then later with my writing partner. And I was fortunate not to worry about operating advertising systems, web servers, or most of the guts of a large online presence early on. I authored an enormous compendium of content, traveled constantly, guided people through their barbecue experiences, taught classes, judged competitions, and appeared on TV, podcasts, radio shows, and in numerous publications worldwide. The days were long, averaging 80 to 100 hours a week. I worked on Christmas. Spending Thanksgiving morning answering panicked questions from first-time turkey cooks. I loved it, but it was exhausting. Probably more than most, I appreciate the dedication it takes to hit the top spot on any list. It’s no easy feat, with or without a team.
So, my sincere congratulations go out to everyone that produces a great barbecue website, whether they are on this list or not. Before the first website was ever written, the internet helped spread the word about barbecue. It is this medium of communication that has made barbecue what it is today. This list is filled with diverse people from around the world because they had this space to fan the flames of their passion. Now they spread the word to bring great outdoor cooking to everyone.